Fort Mill’s history on display during walking tour

cwhite@fortmilltimes.comMarch 31, 2014 

— Members of the York County Genealogical and Historical Society met under the roof of Fort Mill’s historic bandstand at Confederate Park Saturday to give residents a tour of some of the town’s historic sites.

The group planned to meet at Confederate Park, but had to seek refuge under the bandstand because of a steady downpour. Tour leader Murray White gave some historical background on Fort Mill and York County – a history he said too many people tend to overlook.

“York County has as much history locally as any place in the country, but for some reason we don’t know it, we don’t understand it and we don’t promote it,” White said.

From the bandstand, White pointed out the monuments in Confederate Park, which he said make the park unique. According to White, the park in downtown Fort Mill is different from other Confederate memorials around the South because it hosts monuments dedicated to slaves, Native Americans and women, as well as Confederate soldiers.

“These are some unique features,” White said. “I think Fort Mill has always been an inclusive community and been a little forward thinking. I think it goes back to that kind of influence.”

After touring the park the group moved to Unity Presbyterian Church, which was established in 1788. The church has been on Unity Street since 1881 after the original three churches burned down. Outside the Unity chapel lies some of the stone foundation from the original church.

Behind the church is a cemetery, which is home to the graves of six World War I soldiers from Fort Mill who were killed in action. These men, along with the rest of their infantry, were part of a group that helped break the Hindenburg Line in Germany during the war, which White said was a major turning point.

The society’s tour ended with a trip to the Fort Mill History Museum, where those who attended explored the exhibits and watched a short film, “A Walk Through Historic Fort Mill with J.B. Wells.” The film featured photos and buildings, people and locations around Fort Mill along with their stories.

The members of the York County Genealogical and Historical Society try to host events similar to this tour every other month, White said, insisting that events like these not only teach people about the town’s past, but can also help the town in the future.

“If you don’t understand where you’re coming from, it’s hard to figure out where you’re going,” White said. “Understanding what your roots are and what the foundation is better helps you plan for the future.”

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